Monday, March 22, 2010

The Guilt Complex

Today I was part of an event where I sat down with writers to talk about their short stories. Out of the 23 people I met with, I had 2 bad experiences. One lady just kind of had it in for me the moment she sat down. I felt this barrier almost immediately. And everything I said to her she resisted. 

After she left I was so frazzled that I had to take a moment when I was with the next person. It was kind of obvious that she was unhappy and I told the next guy that sometimes I rub women of a certain age the wrong way. 

"It's because I look young, but really, I'm old," I said.

He laughed and said that he had the opposite problem. 

But I do feel that when I talk to certain women they get annoyed because the feeling is that I'm this young pipsqueak who shouldn't be telling them what's wrong with their short stories. 

I once taught a GRE class when I was in my mid-twenties and although I am an EXCELLENT teacher who has increased students scores tremendously as a mercenary of knowledge, this particular group of wannabe nurses asked for a different teacher because, although I was very nice and taught the material well, they wanted someone who was older. I was older than most of them! 

I mean, I look young, but I don't look THAT young. And yes, I'm still getting carded at the movie theater. For rated R movies. Which means that people think I am 16!! God forbid I try to get two tickets for me and my 43-year-old husband for The Hangover. 

And this other guy just really felt that I missed a key element in his story---and even asked me how many times I read it. I was a bit taken aback. I had read his story TWICE! And I didn't SEE what he had intended because it wasn't there! 

I came home kind of down and feeling bad until I opened up my email account and I got a bunch of emails from other people I met today thanking me and telling me how I inspired them to work on their stories to make them better. 

I turned to Peter and said, "Why is it when I had 21 good experiences do I concentrate on the 2 bad ones? Does everyone do that?"

And he said, "Only people with guilt complexes."

Why do I have a guilt complex? It's probably because I'm an oldest sister and I was brought up believing that if I didn't help my younger siblings, then they wouldn't be able to reach their full potential and then they would live horrible lives and it would ALL BE MY FAULT.

So I went through my day and I remembered this one guy who said that he had been looking forward to our mentorship session all week and that he was SO HAPPY that he came to the event. 

I decided that THIS is what I'm going to remember about today from NOW ON.

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